TennisSection previews the 2023 WTA Austin Open as Marta Kostyuk takes on Varvara Gracheva in the final on Sunday, March 5, 2023.
The first WTA tournament to be held on U.S. soil in 2023 culminates in a final match pitting Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk, the number eight seed, against unseeded Russian Varvara Gracheva. Who will leave the state of Texas as the champion of the inaugural WTA Austin Open?
Since she burst onto the big stage as a 15-year-old in 2018, Marta Kostyuk was destined for future success at the biggest WTA tournaments. While 2018 feels like ages ago, Kostyuk is still only 20, hardly even in her prime years, but it beggars belief she hasn’t been to the WTA final in that span let alone winning one. But on Sunday at the inaugural WTA Austin Open, the Ukranian enters the championships match as a strong favorite to claim the prize against Varvara Gracheva. But with the Russian very much a giant killer this week, do not rule out an upset.
Varvara Gracheva, like Marta Kostyuk, will also be playing in her first WTA final after sneaking into the championship match with a series of odds-defying wins. Gracheva doesn’t have a junior career of illustrious comparison to that of Kostyuk, but she is only two years older than her Ukranian opponent and very much with massive top-20 potential. Gracheva has had a much tougher path in reaching the WTA Austin Open final, taking out the top-seeded Magda Linette in her opener. Then she knocked off the rapidly improving Anna Blinkova before avenging her Merida loss by beating Sloane Stephens – her only straight-sets win during the week. A topsy-turvy win over home favorite Katie Volynets confirmed her place in the final.
Marta Kostyuk leads Varvara Gracheva 3-2 in their head-to-head, although their solitary WTA meeting was won by the Russian on the hard courts of Chicago in 2021. Gracheva, in truth, has faced stiff competition in getting to the WTA Austin Open final, accounting for some giant-killing wins. Kostyuk’s win over Danielle Collins in the semifinal cannot be taken for granted either considering the resurgence the American was forging on home soil after a subpar Australian summer. There won’t be much to choose between these two, and despite entering the match as the underdog priced at 2/1, Gracheva has showcased her stamina and endurance when the going gets tough. So if this one does indeed go into a decider, the Russian could give Kostyuk a run for her money. However, with the kind of season Kostyuk has put together this year and the small steps she has taken in the past few years, this should be her breakthrough moment on the WTA Tour.
Free Tennis Prediction and Pick: Marta Kostyuk in 2 sets
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